Kentucky Wildcats Still a Big Win Away from an At-Large NCAA Tournament Bid
The Kentucky Wildcats (20-8, 11-4 SEC) have had a strange and wild season. Ranked fifth in the preseason(Good job pollsters), losing Nerlens Noel to an injury, and general shenanigans have all put the Wildcats in a situation where they are on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Usually 20 wins from a team in a power-conference is enough, not so for Kentucky. Unfortunately for them, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee doesn’t like putting teams in who have lost their best player(That is on the committee, not Kentucky’s fault). Since the Wildcats lost Noel for the remainder of the year, winning is the only way they can help force the Selection Committee to allow them to go dancing in March.
Even winning isn’t enough. Despite Kentucky whooping the Mississippi State Bulldogs by 30 points Wednesday night, they still need to win at least one more impressive game to get an at-large bid.
Saturday will give the Wildcats the opportunity to do just that as they face off against the solid, but beatable, Arkansas Razorbacks (17-11, 8-7 SEC). Arkansas might not be ranked but they are a good enough team, that if Kentucky were to beat them, would give the Wildcats an impressive enough resume to get the elusive pair of dancing slippers. Whether or not Kentucky could improve on their three game winning streak is the million dollar question.
The Wildcats have far more going against them than in favor. The Selection Committee is a wacky bunch and can use the preseason expectations against them. However, it seems as if Kentucky is doing enough, even without Noel, to be granted the chance to play in some March Madness.
Although, a win Saturday should be enough to guarantee them a spot in the tourney.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone